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News | Published: Wed 25 Mar 2009

ImageBeyond Words: Working with the Alzheimer’s Society

The Education Department has worked with the Alzheimer’s Society for over five years. The Society’s Art group visits the Museum eight times a year for a gallery talk, followed by a practical art session in the Fitzwilliam’s Education Studio.

People with Alzheimer’s and their carers - accompanied by staff and volunteers from the Alzheimer’s society - take part in the sessions which start with a gallery talk. Using paintings and objects from the museum’s collection as inspiration can be a great way of generating discussion, encouraging participants to share their knowledge and memories with the rest of the group, in relation to the chosen theme for that day’s session. "Whilst short-term memory is affected by the onset of dementia, long-term memory can remain wholly intact," says Gill Hart, Outreach and Access Officer at The Fitzwilliam Museum, "and this part of the visit is designed to maximise the wellbeing benefits of looking at and talking about art."

Talks are always complemented with a practical art session. This could be anything from clay to craft based sessions, watercolour to silk painting, as the Museum aims to encourage participants to experiment with as many materials as possible. "The focus is not always upon creating an end result, rather a means of individuals using co-ordination and dexterity to manipulate materials," says Gill Hart. "That said, many lovely things have been created in these sessions!

For more information please contact Gill Hart, Outreach and Access Officer on 01223 764392 or email gmh33@cam.ac.uk